Bureaucracy is one of the biggest fears when you start talking with developers about defining and formalizing their process. They fear (and sometimes rightly so!) that the new process will force them to do all sorts of useless operations that are not really required and don’t provide any added value to the product or the company.
In many cases this is justified since together with the process we tend to start adding many operations that are both worthless and time consuming. But this does not necessarily need to be the case.
Whenever I work with a company improving their process I do it based on 3 main principles:
1. Take what already exists and build upon it. Even if the company does not see it this way, they already have a process in place. Understand what this process is, retain the parts that are good and modify only what doesn’t work.
2. Implement changes by making baby-steps, nothing good will come from a big change done over-night. By performing small changes you get a chance to evaluate each improvement individually, to understand what works and what doesn’t, and most importantly to fine-tune each step based on what makes sense in the specific environment.
3. AUTOMATE – this is the last but most important principle.
The team should not start working for the process, the process should help the team improve its work. A good and effective way to do this is by finding a system that will handle as much of the work for the user as possible.
Not all tools will do this correctly (most wont), this is why we need to choose well and make sure to get one that does.
Bottom line: Process is not necessarily a synonym of bureaucracy; this depends on the person or team implementing the process, doing it intelligently, and implementing the correct systems to support it.
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